Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, March 2, 1999

H A W A I I _P R E P _ S P O R T S

Budget talks
bleak for high
school sports

Several sports would be
eliminated if even a five percent
cut is necessary

By Pat Bigold


The future of Hawaii high school athletics would be in serious danger even if the less drastic of two trial budgets being floated by Superintendent of Education Paul LeMahieu is adopted.

The budgets were drawn up in response to the Senate Ways and Means Committee's suggestion that the Department of Education come up with ways to reduce its overall budget by 5 percent and 10 percent.

Under the 5 percent proposal, LeMahieu would eliminate all junior varsity sports and make major cuts in varsity programs, supplies, equipment and transportation.

Nearly 10,000 of the more than 18,000 students now participating statewide in prep sports would be affected.

Under the worst-case scenario -- the 10 percent proposal for DOE cuts -- athletics would be cut completely from the state budget.

Dwight Toyama, executive secretary of the Oahu Interscholastic Association, said that even if the lower cuts are enacted, the issue of a state football tournament would be "moot." Benefits enjoyed by female athletes under Title IX would also be affected by the cuts.

Toyama said neighbor island programs would be crippled by the transportation cuts. Neighbor island athletes already fundraise to compete interisland and use gyms for overnight accommodations.

"The neighbor islands can't survive with this," said Toyama.

Officials hope that tomorrow's projection by the Council on Revenues on what monies are available will make such cuts unnecessary in the coming school year.

While the overall DOE budget would be reduced 5 percent, the overall athletic budget would be cut by about 25 percent.

But the most devastating impact would be on the operating budget, which is now $3.7 million. It takes into account supplies, equipment, transportation and coaching stipends.

That budget would be reduced by 65 percent with nearly $2.4 million in cuts under the 5 percent across-the-board scenario.

Toyama was asked to draw up the cut proposals for LeMahieu in his capacity as athletics advisor to the DOE. He said the budget for supplies and equipment would be reduced from $598,248 to $148,622, the transportation budget would shrink from $475,792 to $148,622 and coaches' stipends would be cut in half from $2,662,420 to $1,439,184.

Toyama said he has never seen anything close to the trial cuts required of him this year, and expressed concern for the future of prep sports in the state.

He said that in addition to ending JV sports altogether, soccer, wrestling, judo, riflery, bowling and soft tennis would be eliminated for boys and girls at the varsity level.

"What I first looked to cut were the sports that did not have a state tournament and then I looked at the nonrevenue-generating sports," said Toyama.

He said that the salaries of the 40 athletic directors and 40 athletic trainers are not included in the proposed 5 percent cuts.

Toyama said he has some concern over student-athlete safety due to reductions in coaching staffs under the 5 percent cuts.

He said football teams would be reduced to a head coach and three assistants.

Teams reduced to a head coach and one assistant would be volleyball, basketball, baseball, track and field and softball.

Cross country, swimming, golf, and tennis would each have one coach.

Toyama said that athletic departments, never before hit with cuts such as those proposed, have been struggling for years.

He said fundraising has become the unwritten rule for athletic departments to make up for already insufficient operating budgets.

Toyama said that while there has been no increase in operating budget, statewide participation in prep sports has increased from 17,222 in 1994-95 to 18,650 in 1998-99. Meanwhile the number of high schools sharing the budget has increased.

Even if the budget allocation for athletics remained the same as this year's, he said athletic departments would still be in trouble because their share of the pie would get smaller.

He said the operating budget for supplies, equipment, transportation and coaches' stipends was $3,970,654 in 1995-96 for 39 schools. Each school got $101,811.

This year, each school's share is down to $93,411.

But in 1999-2000, there will be 41 schools with the opening of Keaau and in 2000-2001, Kapolei will open. Toyama projects that even if current funding continues, the share will be down to $88,963 by then.

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